October 23, 2014

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Despite arrest, Browns’ Bodden to play Sunday

BEREA — An arrest Wednesday and not guilty plea Thursday won’t keep Browns cornerback Leigh Bodden from starting against the Steelers on Sunday in the season opener.
Coach Romeo Crennel downplayed the arrest Thursday, Bodden practiced and the NFL said any discipline wouldn’t happen by this weekend.
Bodden spoke briefly to the media before practice.
“There are two sides to every story. I can’t comment on my side of the story,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that it’s a distraction before the Steelers game. I apologized to my coaches and my teammates. We’re just trying to get past that and get ready for Pittsburgh.”
Bodden, who is in his fifth year with the Browns, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of aggravated disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The next court appearance was set for Sept. 25.
Bodden was arrested Wednesday evening after police accused him of driving in reverse down a one-way street and becoming verbally abusive outside Hopkins International Airport, where he said he was picking up his girlfriend and their two young children.
“It’s a minor traffic stop,” Crennel said, before he had talked with Bodden. “I could get a speeding ticket, and it’s the same deal.”
Crennel was reminded by a reporter that the charges were more serious.
“I need to know what happened and the courts will decide that to a large degree,” he said. “I can look at a guy cross-eyed and he can charge me with something for looking at him wrong.
“No fisticuffs occurred or anything to my knowledge. I’m going to wait until I find out all the facts before I make any kind of judgment.”
The NFL will also wait before deciding whether to issue any discipline, NFL senior vice president of public relations Greg Aiello said. Under the new personal conduct policy, the league has handed out discipline before the conclusion of the legal process, but that’s only for guys with multiple arrests on serious charges, such as Adam “Pacman” Jones.
Bodden, who isn’t known to have a history of legal trouble, could eventually be subject to a fine or suspension. The policy specifically mentions resisting arrest and disorderly conduct as punishable offenses, even without conviction. Just by being arrested, Bodden is required to undergo formal clinical evaluation.
“I’m not concerned about (suspension) at all,” Bodden said. “The legal system will handle it. The league will handle it. All I can do is play football.”
Bodden is known around team headquarters as a soft-spoken individual.
“He’s an easygoing guy, you don’t anticipate any problems with him,” Crennel said. “There may be more to it than an easygoing guy all of a sudden going off the deep end.”
Andra Davis, announced as a team captain Wednesday as the NFL tries to promote leadership, gave Bodden his unwavering support.
“The Leigh Bodden I know, he’s a great guy,” Davis said. “I never envisioned him being belligerent to anyone. I’ve never seen the guy really get mad.
“The stuff that I heard on the TV last night, I wasn’t feeding into that. I don’t believe any of the stuff that they said.”
Bodden, 25, refused to stop the 2004 GMC Yukon he was driving when initially approached by an officer at the airport, police Lt. Thomas Stacho said. According to police, Bodden eventually pulled the vehicle to a curb, got out and walked toward an airport entrance.
Bodden became verbally abusive with the officer, who called for police backup, Stacho said. Responding officers instructed Bodden to place his hands on a wall, which he did, but the situation became tense when he began to resist officers trying to place handcuffs on him, Stacho said.
Bodden later complied with police and was taken to a city jail. He spent five hours in jail before he was released early Thursday on a $1,000 bond. He also faces traffic charges of failing to produce a driver’s license and driving the wrong way on a one-way street, Stacho said.
“He’s anxious to tell his side of the story,” said attorney Matthew Selby, who entered the not guilty plea. “Leigh’s is much different than what’s been reported so far. We’re not releasing details of Leigh’s version.
“The legal process will have to take its course.”
The charges carry a sentence of up to six months in jail.
Meanwhile, the Browns tried to keep their focus on the Steelers.
“It’s only a distraction in the sense of how big we try to make it,” Crennel said. “The more we talk about it, the more we build it up, the bigger the distraction’s going to be. If we take it for what it is, a minor incident, and then move on and get ready for Pittsburgh, it won’t be as much of a distraction.”
Bodden took that approach.
“It’s not a personal distraction,” he said. “What happens outside of here stays outside of here when it comes to football. I’m concentrating on football.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact Scot Petrak at 329-7135 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.